I picked up a feather this morning, lost, discarded. I’ve tucked it away in my backpack for now, keeping it out of the wind, though it was made to help a bird fly, made to soar. To hide it from the wind seems contradictory to its nature.
The headache that’s been building has me wanting to do the same thing – burrow in and hide from the winds of life, even when those winds are whispers to come and fly, to come and live fully alive.
There’s an ache in me there – wanting to lean into life so fully that I can no longer balance on my feet but must fly; while at the same time I stay afraid to let go, afraid to move from my tight little cave of safety.
But what is safety? Shouldn’t there be more safety in being fully myself, fully alive – just as God made and wants me? Isn’t there ultimately more safety in truth than any falsehood, any masks we try to wear? How can it be safe to go against God?
We had a quote in our sermon on Sunday from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis challenging us on God’s safety: “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” And there’s story after story through the Old Testament showing the foolishness of working against God, of challenging the things God has set up. Why do I choose, again and again, to stifle what God wants brought forth? Why do I chain myself to the ground, when God longs to see me fly?
But berating myself does not get me anywhere, it just adds weight to my chains. Love and kindness is what I need to lift me.
That’s part of what Christ put to death on the cross – conditional love, rules to measure up to. I am enough, just as I am, hiding in my small, dark cave, to be loved, to be celebrated, to be welcomed and affirmed with open arms. And to love as God loves, I need to regard myself in this way.
It makes me laugh when I remember that I didn’t come across the concept of loving-kindness in the church, the acceptance, welcome, and love for what is, before we stop and judge whether we like it or not. No, it was in a period when I felt distant from God, from God’s ordained community, when I longed for Emmanuel, but only got Christ ascended. I went reading Buddhist writings to help give me purchase with my trembling faith, and there I found it, there I was invited to welcome with open arms all of myself, all of my life, just as it is.
It was a few years later that I found loving-kindness in the Amplified Bible (and since then in other versions too), and I laughed because it had been there all along, but never presented in a way I could grasp, never taught and modeled in a way I could copy. Instead, things could always be better, or done faster, or at least more efficiently, and therefore Instead, things could always be better, or done faster, or at least more efficiently, and therefore I could always do better, be better, I was never enough.
This coming alive business, this living fully as myself, is a strange combination of accepting that I am enough, right here and now, my worth is not ever in question, and a striving to be better, be more, to lean in and grow into my full self, the idea that there is more for and of me to come.
Acceptance of now, opens room for the next.
Reminding myself of my beauty now, invites me to be beautiful again, more, and in different ways, to know I am beautiful however I might experiment with presenting it.
Reminding myself I am enough right now, means I don’t need to keep striving, I don’t need to try and prove my worth in the next thing, and then again in the next. I become free to blossom in my own ways and in my own time, safe in the knowledge that it will be beautiful, it will be wanted, accepted, delighted in, and that it will be enough. I am safe to take my time learning to fly, safe to work out the ways best for me, the ways which best keep me in tune with the Divine Wind I soar in, and that it is God who keeps me aloft, not my own efforts.